Anyone know who the Surgeon General is? Trick question, really because we don't have one. The last one to occupy that office (and supposedly the top public health officer in the US, the person who speaks directly to the American people about health issues that matter — smoking, for example) was Richard Carmona. Well, he didn't last and had a few harsh things to say under oath.
A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.
The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Post.
Three people directly involved in its preparation said its publication was blocked by William R. Steiger, a specialist in education and a scholar of Latin American history whose family has long ties to President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Since 2001, Steiger has run the Office of Global Health Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Richard H. Carmona, who commissioned the "Call to Action on Global Health" while serving as surgeon general from 2002 to 2006, recently cited its suppression as an example of the Bush administration's frequent efforts during his tenure to give scientific documents a political twist. At a July 10 House committee hearing, Carmona did not cite Steiger by name or detail the report's contents and its implications for American public health.
Only 166 of the CDC's 304 overseas positions in 53 countries are filled, according to the memo. At least 85 positions likely will remain unfilled until 2008, Blount said. Among the causes he cited: Delays at a federal human resource center in Atlanta and an additional bureaucratic layer that requires CDC foreign postings be approved by a senior political appointee's office in Washington...
William Steiger, director of HHS' Office of Global Health Affairs, was out of the country and unavailable for comment, said spokesman Bill Hall. Steiger has come under fire in the past for allegedly micromanaging the overseas work of the department's scientific divisions. Steiger, the godson of former President George H.W. Bush, is President George W. Bush's nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Mozambique.
Hall did not respond to requests for other department officials to explain the hiring policies.
Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, questioned why HHS officials in Washington are contributing to the CDC's hiring delays. "CDC isn't sending political people abroad to do global disease detection. They're sending scientists," said Levi, whose Washington-based group examines public health preparedness.
Levi said having CDC scientists overseas is important in creating a stronger global disease detection system. The vacancies create the risk that "we won't get the warning we need and we won't be as prepared as we should be," he said.
The Bush Administration interference with science has been pervasive and repeated. I'm glad it's starting to get a little more press. The next administration needs to be held to a completely different standard. This one's a lost cause, and needs to be exposed as widely as possible.
Avian Influenza H5N1 has gained significant international attention. Most experts today view the increasing possibility of a pandemic influenza as the most significant global health emergency on the immediate horizon. A pandemic is a global disease outbreak, and an influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza A virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population, begins to cause serious illness and then spreads easily from person to person worldwide. Historically, pandemics have traveled along sea-lanes, with global spread completed within six to eight months. Air travel has shortened this timeline considerably.
So why is the report blocked? Not enough about the wonderful science contributions of this administrations, like abstinence-only sex education?
Evaluation of these 11 programs showed few short-term benefits and no lasting, positive impact. A few programs showed mild success at improving attitudes and intentions to abstain. No program was able to demonstrate a positive impact on sexual behavior over time. A description follows of short- and long-term impacts, by indicator.
I wonder why no one trusts these people.